May. 13th, 2010

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This is my subconscious life. I was dreaming that I was staying at the Overlook Hotel from The Shining which was in California for some reason. I was annoyed that it was looking pretty shabby and also, the bartender was bitching about bringing me a refill for my Diet Coke which really annoys me when I'm dreaming that I'm paying $400 a night for a crappy room, or, possibly, hallucinating in an empty hotel. So, I finally get my drink and decide to go upstairs where OH MY CRAP it's that suicidal old lady ghost and she's going to kill... oh wait, never mind, it's only Lady Gaga without any makeup on. And this is why I had to quit drinking Diet Coke before bed.

I was going to continue reviewing Hush, Hush chapter by chapter, but I have run into some snags. Firstly, this book is so dull that even making fun of it really isn't all that entertaining. Secondly, today the studio was full of flies (yes, it was really gross) and my copy of Hush, Hush proved to be the best fly-killing weapon available. There are now 7-8 dead flies squashed against the window, where I have left them as a warning to all of their little fly friends. The covers of Hush, Hush are now covered in fly guts and the book is looking even more unappealing than it was when I bought it. So, having read the entire book, I will do my best to sum up. At length.

I don't remember the narrator of The Great Gatsby ever describing his own looks. We don't need him to tell us what he looks like. We learn enough about his character to imagine him for ourselves. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout talks about wearing overalls rather than dresses but she doesn't tell us what color hair she has or whether she has freckles. We don't need to know. The overalls tell us enough. In fact, great authors tend to limit physical descriptions to characters that we won't ever know well enough to build a clear image of who they are. We hear more about what Gatsby's near anonymous guests are wearing than about Daisy's wardrobe. At one point, she wears a white dress which is meant to express more about the setting than the people involved.

So, when Nora, the heroine of the book tells me that she is smart or that she has curly hair and long legs or is wearing a navy blue sweater, I am left bored and uninterested. Who cares if Nora's hair is curly? The narrator of Rebecca doesn't even share her name, and yet we can imagine her pretty easily. Why do we need to know about Nora's hair? We need to know because Nora is meant to be just like Becca Fitzpatrick, whose picture is on the dust jacket with the exact same auburn-ish curly hair as her heroine. In fact, Nora is so like the author that she doesn't act at all like the high school kid that she's meant to be and I'm left wondering if this story was meant to be about college students or twenty-somethings and some editor said "Put 'em in high school because teen girls will eat that crap up!"

Nora lives in Maine. Maine would actually be a cool location for a supernatural mystery. You have harsh New England weather, sparse population, and communities that are primarily maritime which would be a fertile ground for ghost stories, lovers lost at sea and the like. Sadly, that's not the Maine where the author has set her book. Nora lives in an 18th century farmhouse, you know, because of all the farming in Maine. In fact, the environment up there was so harsh that the first colonists couldn't survive most likely because they couldn't make farming work. Not unless you're planning on farming pine trees and blueberries. That's not to say that an 18th century farmhouse couldn't exist, it would just be quite a rarity. An 18th century sea captain's house would make more sense, but what the heck. I think Nora goes to a restaurant that has a lobster roll special, and that's about as much New England atmosphere as you get. This Maine is foggy like the Pacific Northwest with no mention of Maine's harsh weather. There's also a Mexican restaurant that serves actual Mexican food which is amazing given that I can't get decent Mexican food in New York City much less Boston or places further north. Know what you can get in New England? Clam chowder. Every frickin' restaurant serves clam chowder every single day of the week. Even the franchised places like Chili's and TGI Friday's have clam chowder. If there's a Mexican restaurant in Maine, you can bet your ass that they have clam chowder.

So Nora of the curly hair in not New England is a high school student. Despite being a minor, she is almost completely unsupervised because her mother is constantly going out of town for her work. Her mother cannot take a job closer to home because then she would not be able to afford the payments on the 18th century farmhouse. My god, what a materialistic asshat. It's only a damn house. What kind of person loses a husband and then neglects her only daughter for the sake of holding onto prime real estate? A mother who needs to be kept conveniently out of the way so her teen daughter can live like an independent twenty something, duh! Nora doesn't appear to have a job or an income of her own but she can afford to eat out constantly and to shop at Victoria's Secret. Another teenaged character was providing an apartment for his girlfriend until her untimely death. The hero hangs out in bars. I could buy it if they were all college students, but it seems pretty far-fetched for high school kids.

The story begins in biology class which for some inexplicable reason is being taught by a coach rather than a professor. Yes, it's almost exactly like Twilight, only with a heavy dose of sexual harassment. The hero is a total creeper by the name of "Patch." Oh the names in this book, the hideously misguided names. There's a 16th century nobleman named "Chauncey" which seems rather unlikely given that a quick Google search will tell you that Chauncey is a Middle English name. Oops. So, Patch harasses Nora for a while and Coach allows it because, as we discover much later, Patch worked his fallen angel mojo to set that up. It doesn't speak well of Patch, but not one single thing Patch does in the entire book ever speaks well of Patch. Patch is a complete ass clown. Nevertheless, Nora drives out to some dive bar in the middle of the night to track Patch down because if you have to choose between being potentially raped and murdered versus failing one Biology assignment, you should definitely go with getting yourself violated or perished. They banter and Patch is still an asshole.

The secondary characters include Nora's friend Vee who is described as fat over and over, only in more polite terms. This is done so that Nora can emphasize over and over how slim she is compared to Vee who is tall, blonde and constantly overeating. Nora and Vee have some sort of sick, passive-aggressive relationship where Vee embarrasses Nora by ham-handedly pushing her at men, while Nora lets Vee act as a decoy so she can be almost murdered by Nora's spectacularly inept enemies. Seriously, these people make Voldemort look competent. There's a "nice guy" love interest named Elliot who is less nice than he seems and considerably more interesting than Patch. Elliot has a friend named Jules who is tall. In fact, the amazing tallness of Jules is emphasized over and over but means nothing to us because tallness is not a personality trait and no one else is especially tall. Frankly, you might as well suspect that Jules is the spawn of Galadriel and Elrond because those elves are all pretty tall.

Of course, no teen girl's fantasy is complete without female antagonists because we all know how much other women suck. So, outside of Vee who really should have reason to hate Nora's stupid, self-centered ass, there's Marcy, the cheerleader. Cheerleading- perpetuating pure evil since the 1950's. There's also Patch's ex-girlfriend who shows up pretending to be the high school shrink. Seriously, I will never understand why the psycho ex is considered romantic. Men who have psycho exes are men who have such crappy taste in romantic partners that they gravitate to psychos. It doesn't exactly speak well of your heroine when she's next on that list, yanno?

I can't really explain how pointless the plot is without giving it all away. Granted, you have to be an idiot to miss the fallen angel image on the cover of the book and that is the only clue you need. Patch fell from grace because he had a relationship with a mortal woman. Yes, that should not bode well for his future with Nora but no one ever points it out. Angels don't feel or something like that, so Patch finds Chauncey, the improbably named Nephilim and possesses his body for two weeks during the Hebrew month of something or other. Oh yes, Chauncey the French guy from 1565 knows the Hebrew calendar because they were so culturally inclusive back then. Whatever Patch does in Chauncey's body is so incredibly unpleasant that he's out for revenge. His revenge plot is to murder Nora before Patch can do it because if Patch kills her, he gets a human body... or something.

Look, it makes no sense. In a way, it's all a big pile of unfortunate implications. Patch fell for getting it on with a mortal chick. Chauncey is half angel. Nora has a birthmark that matches a mark that Patch has. So, is she Patch's descendant? Well, the book only says that Patch has to kill a descendant of his Nephilim vassal, but that's retarded. Or has Chauncey been protecting his descendants from Patch for years, but if that's the case, why is he trying to kill Nora? And why doesn't he say so? There's an interesting plot somewhere in the background that we never ever see because the author is so busy boring us to death with Patch and Nora's boring as Hell antics.

It's very obvious that either Jules or Elliot must be Chauncey, otherwise the third person prologue would be pointless. Since Jules hides every time Patch is around, the answer to that one is obvious. in the meantime, Elliot turns out to have the spectacularly improbable back story of having been a high school kid basically supporting some chick in an apartment. And where are the parents? I can buy that Jules is on his own and probably has the resources to fake a history but the Elliot doesn't. That's the whole point of Elliot's involvement with Jules- he's doing it to get money and power that he doesn't have. So, again, where are the parents slaving away to send Elliot to this prep school full of rich kids? What do they have to say when his girlfriend turns up dead? How do they feel about Elliot's out of the blue transfer to Nora's school? Did they notice that their kid was providing an apartment for his girlfriend?

The angels all have the power to mess with people's heads. They use this power to gaslight Nora. That's pretty much it. They also kind of suck at using their powers. I mean, why make someone think you just tried to kill them? What's the point of that? Why make someone think you trashed their bedroom when it would be more interesting to trash the room and then make people think that you didn't. And why does the room get trashed? So they can steal an article that Nora printed off the internet. You know, because she can't just go print another copy. These people are morons. Jules is planning to kill Nora but despite having a scrillion chances, he just messes with her. What is wrong with this dumbass? Patch needs Nora to love him enough to want to die for him, so he makes her think that he's trying to kill her? Then he says that he was trying to kill because, what, he read the instructions on his curse wrong? "Oh crap, I thought it said she has to die unwillingly instead of willingly. Dammit!!!"

So, for twenty eight out of thirty chapters, Nora keeps getting almost murdered by the moron twins. Patch's angel ex-girlfriend ends up nearly beating Vee to death because she, like the characters in most operas, is immediately fooled when Vee and Nora switched jackets. If only they'd had a couple of tiny masks, they could have convinced them all that they'd both disappeared completely and been replaced by wacky mask-wearing foreigners. Patch keeps inviting Nora to dangerous places and she keeps going because creepy stalkers are so hot.

Then, at long last, Jules and Elliot actually kidnap Vee and Nora ends up following them into the high school. You know, like the ending of Twilight only it's a high school rather than a ballet school. Jules messes with Nora's mind and she finally decides to kill herself, more to spite Jules than to save Patch. Well, let's face it, all the options suck. I'm going to kill you so that you can't kill yourself? Great. Just. Great.

Then Nora wakes up in the hospital, just like Bella. Patch has refused to accept her sacrifice. I'm a little unclear on how that one works. I mean, either she was fatally injured or she wasn't. Or are we supposed to believe that some higher power stepped in and fixed things in which case, where the heck was a higher power back in chapter one? Why didn't it step in and fix things earlier? Why did innocent people have to die so that Patch and Nora could get their shit together? Why are they okay with this?

Elliot also survives because he was such a gosh darn nice guy despite letting Jules kill his girlfriend and then letting her family think it was a suicide and being complicit in the murder of some random homeless woman.

Since Patch refused to become human, he has been turned into a guardian angel. So, let's get this straight, Patch falls from grace for getting jiggy with some mortal chick. Then he manages to get his wings back... so he can get jiggy with some other mortal chick. So, how does this work exactly? It doesn't. It's completely lame. I don't know what the hell is wrong with the people who keep claiming that the mythology of this book is all cool. None of it makes sense. NO. SENSE. AT. ALL.

I could make a better case for the bad guys to be the heroes of this book. Maybe Jules is so horrified by the naughty things that Patch does in his body that he is willing to sacrifice his own relative to stop the horror. Maybe Jules is, in some way, trying to protect Nora from some far worse fate that might befall her for snogging around with the spawn of hell. It would make way more sense than "He's a complete asshole who is alternately trying to kill me and trying to molest me, but true love makes it okay!!!" Look at me, I'm practically read to fanfic this damn thing just to inject some kind of logic.

So, my advice to you is, don't bother reading Hush, Hush. if you really want to be bored to tears by some YA fiction just buy a copy of Twilight. Sure, Twilight sucks, but at least it's the first of it's genre. Stephenie Meyer's world is a lame, teen fantasy but that's miles better than being a poorly conceived ripoff of someone else's teen fantasy.

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Tytania Strange

April 2017

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